Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts

Monday, June 3, 2024

Vampires in Space for Thirteen Parsecs

 June is the month I usually dedicate to Basic-era (B/X, BECMI) D&D, but not always. I have D&D-related plans for June, but I am not entirely done with science fiction yet. 

I have been doing a feature most nights, largely without pomp or circumstance, called Dracula, The Hunters' Journals, where I post the entries from the novel Dracula on the day they were recorded.  It has been a odd thing to post all this Dracula and Victorian content in the midst of all the sci-fi material I have been talking about all month.  But it is not unprecedented. 

Vampires in Space, via NIGHT SHIFT

Vampires in Space

What do Buck Rogers, Doctor Who, Vampirella, and Colin Wilson all have in common? They are all different science fiction media properties that have featured stories of vampires in space.

One of the strong selling points I think of our new Thirteen Parsecs RPG is it's 100% compatibility with NIGHT SHIFT.  Creatures, characters, classes, and more can be lifted whole from NIGHT SHIT and dropped right into Thirteen Parsecs.  You just need to figure out why they are there.

The vampire in NIGHT SHIFT is based on the Gothic vampire of old, which, of course, has roots in mythology, but mostly in Dracula, Ruthven, and Carmilla. It is also flexible enough to allow for various modern re-interpretations against the Gothic archetype. There is no reason why this can't be extended beyond that to space.  And like I said before, I kinda owe it to my 10-year-old self to at least try a Space Vampire. 

Vampires in Space

So, how have Space Vampires been done already?

Buck Rogers TV Series: "The Space Vampire"

In this episode from the 1979 TV series "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," Buck Rogers faces a creature known as a Vorvon, a space vampire that drains the life energy from its victims. The episode blends science fiction with classic vampire mythology and powers, as the Vorvon can possess and control other beings. Buck must find a way to stop this menace before it can spread its evil influence throughout the space station. As expected, the Vorvon goes after Col. Wilma Dearing (though it does give Erin Gray a bit more to do). The vampire here can only be destroyed by flying it into a sun.

Doctor Who: "State of Decay"

This 1980 serial from "Doctor Who" features the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker. The Doctor and Romana II and unknown to them, Adric, land on a planet where a trio of ancient vampire lords. These human explorers encountered the last of a race known as the Great Vampires, and have enslaved the local population. The story explores the conflict between the advanced Time Lords and the primitive yet powerful vampires, mixing gothic horror with futuristic elements.  Here the Great Vampires are depicted as an ancient race, as old as the Time Lords themselves, and their wars with the Time Lords. Again, like the Buck Rogers episode, many Vampire mythological elements are re-translated here.

Of note, well at least to me, is a line dropped by the Doctor that every inhabited planet has myths about vampires. We will later see other types of vampires in future episodes. The Haemovores in the 7th Doctor's "The Curse of Fenric," the Plasmavore in the 10th Doctor's "Smith and Jones," and the Saturnyn, another type of vampire (sexy fish vampires, according to the 11th Doctor) in "Vampires of Venice."

I discuss both of these episodes here and more about vampires in Doctor Who specifically here

Lifeforce (1985)

"Lifeforce" is a fairly notorious sci-fi horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. The plot centers on a space mission that discovers an alien spacecraft hidden in the tail of Halley's Comet. Inside, the crew finds three humanoid creatures in suspended animation. When brought back to Earth, these beings awaken and reveal themselves to be energy vampires, draining life force from humans to survive. 

The film was a minor hit in 1985, maybe not so much for the plot or story, but because it featured then-newcomer Mathilda May, who appeared completely nude throughout most of the film. It also included Steve Railsback, who would later give a strong and memorable performance as the abductee Duane Barry in the "X-Files" and Patrick Stewart who would the following year go on to star in "Star Trek the Next Generation."

This movie is, in theory anyway, based on the 1976 book by Colin Wilson, "The Space Vampires." I read the book after seeing the movie, and they have a few connections, like some vampires and character names. They are so different. I'll talk about the book separately.


Ah, Vampy. Vampirella is a character from the eponymous comic book series created by Forrest J. Ackerman and artist Trina Robbins, first appearing in 1969. She is an alien vampire from the planet Drakulon, where blood flows like water. After her planet is doomed, she travels to Earth. Blending science fiction and horror, Vampirella fights evil supernatural beings while struggling with her vampiric nature. The character has become iconic, appearing in various comic series, novels, and a 1996 film adaptation. of late she is often paired with Red Sonja in a number of reality spanning adventures. The strangest, and oddly the most fun one? "Red Sonja & Vampirella meet Betty & Veronica." On paper it should never work, yet it does.  Part of this, I think, also is due to the amazing art of Maria Sanapo.

Clark Ashton Smith's Works

Clark Ashton Smith, a long-time favorite here at The Other Side, incorporated vampiric themes into his science fiction and fantasy stories. In "The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis" (1932), explorers on Mars encounter a parasitic creature that drains their life force, functioning similarly to a vampire. His works often feature otherworldly landscapes and cosmic horrors, blending the supernatural with speculative elements.

The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

This 1976 novel is the basis for the movie "Lifeforce." It follows the story of alien vampires who travel to Earth and attempt to drain the life energy of humans. The novel delves into themes of sexuality, existentialism, and the survival instinct, blending sci-fi with classic vampire lore. 

The vampires, the almost Lovecraftian "Ubbo-Sathla," here, are more like Sex-Vampires. So that much tracks with the movie. The novel takes place in the late 21st century, not the 20th, and the discovery of the alien ship is in the Asteroid belt. 

Shambleau by C.L. Moore

"Shambleau" is a science fiction short story written by C.L. Moore, first published in the November 1933 issue of "Weird Tales" magazine. It is the debut story of her character Northwest Smith, a space-faring adventurer often compared to figures like Han Solo or Conan the Barbarian. "Shambleau" is noted for its innovative blend of science fiction and horror, as well as for its exploration of erotic and psychological themes.

The creature, Shambleau, is an exotic alien beauty with snakes for hair like Medusa. She has a hypnotic effect on those around her and, like Wilson's vampires, drains life energy. In many ways, she is a vampire, much in the same way that the Leanan sídhe is. There is also a scene in the Lifeforce movie where the female vampire (Mathilda May) is created out of the blood of two victims and she bears a passing resemblance to the description of Shambleau. 

Vampires in Thirteen Parsecs

How you do vampires will largely be up to your Thirteen Parsecs campaign. For example, I will likely not have them in my "Space Truckers" games except as a gag. But "Darker Stars" is a different story. 

I would have them as an ancient but dying race. Their homeworld orbits a "Black Sun," a Brown Dwarf star. Their planet would be the last dying remains of a great feudal empire where Vampires were all the nobility. They took to the stars to find new planets to drain, but encountering humanity from Earth, they met their first real resistance in their 10,000-year reign. Part of the Darker Stars camping mode would be this first contact.

I once saw a meme that said you can turn a Gothic cathedral on its side to make a gothic-looking spaceship. That's what the ships of the vampires look like. Something that should look ancient and like it was built as an act of worship to their Vampire masters. 

To give you an idea of what I am doing in Darker Stars, I don't even consider the Vampires to be the biggest threat. 

I can't wait to get this all to you.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: V is for Vampire

Dracula by Edgar Alfred Holloway
Dracula by Edgar Alfred Holloway
Long before I was ever known as the "witch guy" I was the "vampire guy." A lot of my peers came to Dungeons & Dragons via the tales of Conan, Elric, and John Carter. Not me. I came to it from Hammer Horror, Dracula, and Dark Shadows. Many players wanted to play mighty thewed barbarians or fighting men. I wanted to play Van Helsing.

This is not my first time doing vampires for the A to Z challenge either.

Not to mention all the posts I have with the Vampire label.  In this A to Z, I also briefly discussed the various Vampire Queens in my game. 

I guess the question becomes. Why Vampires?

Why Vampires?

Dungeons & Dragons is filled with plenty of monsters to fight and defeat. Everything from the lowest Kobold to Dragons and even more dangerous creatures. Vampires are not as powerful as Liches, or Demon Lords, or the Lords of Faerie. So why do I keep coming back to them?

There is the allure of the vampire. It is so close to being human and yet isn't. It is dangerous, but not like, say, Godzilla is dangerous. It can get into your homes, your psyche. It can destroy you from the inside and make you want more of it. 

Vampires are a staple of horror fiction, in particular Gothic Horror. They are also a feature of the Swords & Sorcery genre, where Conan famously battles the vampire Akivasha in an underground maze. That scene from "The Hour of the Dragon" is as much a part of D&D's DNA as anything from The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings.

My family of Paladins, the Werpers, are all Vampire Hunters. I even had a character was a pretty blonde girl with a supernatural background who was a hunter of vampires. Yes, my Raven, was doing her thing long before anyone knew of "Buffy."

If you follow my annual October Horror Movie Marathon you know I have pretty much seen every vampire movie ever made. 

Vampires are Everywhere

The Doctor: Do you know, it just occurs to me there are vampire legends on almost every inhabited planet.
Romana: Really?
The Doctor: Yes.
    - The Fourth Doctor and Romana II, "State of Decay"

Nearly every culture on the planet has some form of vampire myth. Pottery dating back to ancient Babylon has vampires on it. The Greeks had several different types, as did the Romans and so on. Sure these all could come from a shared human fear of the dead returning to take from us what they miss; life. It also could be the inheritor of a tradition dating back to the Pre-Indo-European peoples where so many of us get our current languages.  In any case, vampires are all over, and they are not going anywhere.

Vampires are also one of the few monsters that move effortlessly between RPG genres. Fantasy and Horror are a given, but they also appear in Steampunk, Superheroes, Pulp, Modern, and even some Sci-fi. Each takes a different approach as to why they are around. 

Strahd, Dracula, & Darlessa

There is an old saying, "A Hero is only as good as the villain." 

If  I want the characters in my games to be heroes, then I need to make sure their villains are up to the challenge. This is another great place for the Vampire to shine. 

In books or movies the bad guy can get away to fight another day. In games? Well, a great set of rolls by the players and some bad ones from the GM, and suddenly your Big Bad Evil Guy is no more! But death is not always the end for vampires.  They can keep coming back for more. Christopher Lee made a career out of this.

I have used Dracula in games in the past, but not as much as I could have. He is like David Bowie. He can turn up, but it needs to be memorable. 

Count Strahd von Zarovich is the star of Ravenloft. All things considered, I like to keep him there.

That leaves me with Darlessa and my other Vampire Queens. I should come up with some more, to be honest. Never can have too many vampires around. 

I honestly should be writing more vampire-themed adventures. Especially ones that I can use cross-genres. 

I do have a Basic Bestiary on just Vampires and Undead, but that is a long way away right now.


Tomorrow is W day, and I think you know what I am going to talk about.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Friday, April 19, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Q is for Queens

 I have an inordinate amount of Queens in my games. I am going to talk about two groups in particular, the Vampire Queens and the Witch Queens.

Tea with the Witch Queens by Brian Brinlee
Tea with the Witch Queens by Brian Brinlee

Both groups are near and dear to my heart and make up a lot of my game worlds' backgrounds.

The Vampire Queens

The vampire queens have a special connection to my early days of gaming. They are:

I have been using vampire queens in my adventures for as long as I can remember. I recall reading lurid tales of Erzsébet Báthory and watching movies like "Daughters of Darkness" and "Countess Dracula." I had worked on a very early vampire queen, who was going to be called "Miriam" thanks to "The Hunger" for my Ravenloft games (see tomorrow), but I kept coming up with so many ideas. Miriam is still out there, even if many of her aspects are now part of Darlessa. The non-vampire parts of Miriam survived as my Witch Queen Miriam

In truth I kind of use them all interchangeably, with some emphasis on Darlessa. As they have all evolved in my games, I am slowly sifting out which traits belong to which queen. 

Interestingly enough, both Darlessa and Xaltana are also both Witch Queens. Xaltana combines Iggwilv (a witch queen) and Drelzna her vampire daughter.  

The Witch Queens

While the Vampire Queens are here to challenge the characters as adversaries, the Witch Queens play a much different and far more wide-reaching role. 

This began as an idea of me finding and then stating up every witch ever mentioned in the pages of a D&D or related game. The premise here was that every 13 years the witches of these worlds would meet in one place to discuss what they are up to in their worlds and plan to generally stay out of each other's way. The gathering, known as the Tredecim, became a big part of my games. At the Tredecim, the 13 ruling witches then choose a new High Witch Queen to serve over the next 13 years.  In my campaign, War of the Witch Queens, the then-current High Witch Queen is murdered before a new one can be chosen. This sends the witches into war against each other, but due to their pacts with Baba Yaga, they can't outright fight each other. So, all their worlds get dragged into the conflict.  This includes the characters.

The characters learn first that a once-in-a-century storm has destroyed their home, and they are refugees helping move their fellow town folk to a new home in East Haven. While their first obvious goal is to stop all the weird happenings going on in their own world, they discover these events are playing out across the worlds. To stop it, they need to stop the all-powerful Witch Queens, but to do that, they will need to discover who murdered the High Queen, how, and why.

Since I started working on this and developing it more and more, I have gone over 13 Witch Queens and my planned 13 Adventures. I am using Basic B/X D&D as my rules of choice here, which limits the levels characters can achieve to 14. 

I am running it with my family now, but I'd also like to run it for a dedicated group someday.  I think for that I would take all the adventures I am using for it and edit them all a bit. 

If I keep the levels 1-14 then the obvious choice is D&D Basic B/X.  If I expand it all to level 20 then my choice will be Castles & Crusades.

Either way, I have a lot to look forward to!

Tomorrow is R Day, and I am going with the campaign setting I ran for all of the AD&D 2nd Edition era, Ravenloft.

OH? Like the art of my Witch Queens up there? The artist is Brian Brinlee and he has a Kickstarter of his new art book going on now! Check it out.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Darlessa for Wasted Lands

I meant to do this character earlier and kinda forgot. Well, today is the day I fix that. When it comes right down to it, no character really represents my shift from D&D to Wasted Lands quite as well as Darlessa the Vampire Queen.

Of course, everyone here knows Darlessa. She has been featured here many times and I already did her witch stats for Swords & Wizardry and her vampire stats for Basic-era D&D. She is also the central antagonist of my Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen. She is responsible for the death of my first character, Johan, and ultimately, the cause for him to be elevated to a Saint. She even has (or had) her own Dark Domain, Arevenir.

Darlessa the Vampire Queen character sheets

I am using the Night Companion again for her so I can get the rules for making her a vampire. She has always been a witch, but a good case could be made for her to be a Spirit Rider, too. Maybe I'll give her a level in that later on, but today, I wanted to compare apples to apples: my OSR witches vs a NIGHT SHIFT witch.

Darlessa the Vampire Queen
Darlessa, the Vampire Queen

Class: Witch (Persona)
Level: 13
Species: Human Vampire
Alignment: Dark Evil
Background: Sorcerous

Strength: 18 (+3) (+2 from Vampire)
Agility: 18 (+3) (+2 from Vampire)
Toughness: 18 (+3) 
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N
Wits: 14 (+1) N
Persona: 22 (+5) A

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: -5
Vitality: 75
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +6/+4/+2
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) +2 (touchstones) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +1 (touchstones)
Spell Attack: +7 (witch) +1 (touchstones)
Saves: +7 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer & Scholar), +3 to Wits (vampire) +1 to All (touchstones)

Witch Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (5): Succubus (6d6), Shadow Walking, Telekinesis, Beguile, Subtle Influence

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Black Flames, Chill Ray, Glamour, Object Reading, Armor of Earth
Second Level: Conjure Flame, ESP, Invoke Fear, See Invisible
Third Level: Clairvoyance, Create Zombies & Skeletons, Curse, Fly
Fourth Level: All-Seeing Invisible Eye, Black Tentacles, Improved Invisibility, Kiss of the Succubus
Fifth Level: Commune with Deeper Dark, Create Undead, Shadow Armor
Sixth Level: Instant Death, Zone of Death
Seventh Level: Wave of Mutilation

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: Additional Spell: Armor of Earth
2nd Level: +1 to Melee attacks
3rd Level: Spirit Guide: Undead Raven, "Lucifer"
4th Level: Favored Enemy: Lawful (Light) Good Clerics
5th Level: +1 to all attack rolls, defense rolls, spells, and saves
6th Level: Glamour at Will

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Power


Wasted Lands Vampires

Ok! This Darlessa is much more powerful than previous versions. This is due largely to proper rules on how to make a character a vampire and how that adds to the character's power. But also Witches in NIGHT SHIFT and the Wasted Lands are a bit more powerful. Lets not forget those divine/heroic touchstones. Those add a LOT of power to the character. This is a version of Darlessa that should properly terrify a group of characters. 

Vampires in the Wasted Lands are also more akin to Akivasha of Robert E. Howard's tale The Hour of the Dragon than they are of Stoker's Dracula. Indeed, Darlessa is cut from the same cloth as Akivasha. Well same cloth, but dyed in the same dyes as various Hammer Horror vampires. 

But in native Wasted Lands, the world envisioned by Elf Lair Games' Jason Vey, vampires are more dangerous and closely tied to the powers of the Deeper Dark. This works fine for me since I have always seen Darlessa as shedding bits of her soul for power to whatever demon would grant it to her. Now, for a pure Wasted Lands game and for the publication of the Tomb of the Vampire Queen, I might go with a different name and slightly changed background. But it will be Darlessa all the same really. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Mail Call: ¡Anuncio por correo! Spanish BECMI and Pacesetter Adventures

Or at least the BE part of BECMI.  So many of you know I have been learning Spanish. I mainly use Duolingo, but I also print books and audiobooks from Audible. My progress is quite slow I will admit, but the journey is half the fun really. 

Back in 2023, I got copies of the Spanish Language D&D 5th edition books for my birthday and Father's Day.  But something I have wanted since 2020 are copies of BECMI in another language. I thought I might grab one in German (a language I can still -somewhat- speak) but they are always quite expensive.

So imagine my surprise when, after posting my search for Spanish language ones, actually came through!

Spanish Language Basic and Expert

They look great, even if I can only sort of read them at the moment. But I know what is in these quite well, so that helps.

Spanish Language Basic and Expert

Versions of BECMI Basic

It is also fun to compare them to the Spanish D&D 5e books I got last year.

Spanish Language D&D

I am NO WHERE near ready to run a game in Spanish D&D. But maybe I could play one later this year.

I might just stick with Basic and Expert. I have not seen a Companion edition out for a very long time. If the price of the German one I was looking at is any indication then it is way outside of my price range.

I also got copies of some adventures (in English) from Pacesetter Games.

Adventures from Pacesetter Games

I gave Venger's Final Wish to my oldest. He is working on taking his group through all the editions of D&D.  More on that later.

Of course, I am a sucker for anything about the Vampire Queen. So this is a nice addition to my collection.  Since the Vampire Queen adventure is for B/X then maybe a "Castillo de la Reina Vampiro" is in order. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: D&DGII Draugr

I am surprised I have not tried to stat these guys up before this. But this seems the perfect time to do it.  


Draugr are powerful undead creatures of former warriors under a powerful curse. Typically, they are cursed to guard a large treasure or powerful tomb of a lord or king. However, it is said that the curse would not take hold if there was not already some evil in their hearts. 

The process of creating a draugr involves dark necromancy and the ritual sacrifice of warriors of at least 7th level of experience. 

They are sacrificed and their corpses are dumped into whatever burial pit or hole they are set to guard.

MOVE: 24" 
HIT DICE: 8+16 (52 hp)
% IN LAIR: 100%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 weapons or touch
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d8+3, 1d8+3
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Constitution Drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better weapon to hit
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: M (6' at shoulder)

Draugr are undead warriors of exceptional ability and strength placed under a curse. They are set to guard some larger treasure of a powerful lord or chieftain.  Typically 1 to 3 draugr are found per tomb along with the treasures of their lord.  Disturbing the tomb will cause the draugr to attack. 

The creatures attack with a sword twice per round. They add +3 to each attack due to high strength. They can as an option, touch an opponent and drain one (1) point of Constitution per successful touch attack. Victims drained to 0 Constitution become wights under the control of the draugr that drained them. Lost Constitution points can be restored at the rate of 1 point per week of bed rest or via any magic that can restore lost levels. 

Draugr can only be hit by magic, +2 weapons, or better weapons. They turn as Vampires. They are harmed by holy water and cannot enter sanctified or holy ground save for where they were buried. They are not harmed 

If the draugr's treasure is taken and the draugr is not completely destroyed it will hunt down every piece of it down to the last copper piece. The only way to completely destroy a draugr is to burn its remains to ash.  


RPG Blog Carnival

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 10, Room 30

 Past the mummies this tomb continues on. There is a double door ahead made of iron. A thief can unlock it but will require three separate open locks rolls. The locks can also be opened with a knock spell on each one.

If a thief does open all three locks there is a spring trap. If it is not discovered it will trip and cause a 1d4+2 hp of damage. No poison though, that it not the danger of this trap.

Beyond the doors lie in wait the Vampire Queen's honor guard.

Room 30

There are five total vampires but the number ready to attack will depend on the amount of hp lost by the trap. One vampire will awaken for each point of hp lost. So a minimum of 3 and maximum of 5.  Any not awake the first round will awaken the second round.

These vampires have been in slumber since the Vampire Queen constructed this tomb from the former dwarven kingdom. They are fiercely loyal and ravenously hungry.

Two have 7 HD, two have 8 HD, and their leader has 9 HD.  All have plate mail +2 and carry long swords +2. They have standard vampire abilities. Due to their hunger, they attack at an additional +1, and their AC has a penalty of -1 to AC. Total mods are +3 bonus to hit and +1 bonus to AC. 

They are not spellcasters and even if they were they are far too hungry here to use spells.

These vampires will not talk to the characters but they will communicate with each other in their own language (not a "vampire" language, but what they spoke before turned).

The vampires have twice the normal amount of treasure. 

The leader has a large iron key for a door at the end of this tomb.

Monday, October 23, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lost Boys (1987)

I talked about this one a bit back when I reviewed Near Dark.  I have to admit that this is the movie I first thought of when I saw that Best Soundtrack was a category.

Lost Boys (1987)

Ok. So I did do this one back in 2014. A lot, if not all, of what I said then still hold true. The movie holds well. Yeah there is some fast and loose play with the rules of vampirism here, but honestly it is still a great film.

Let's talk about that soundtrack.

There are so many great hits here. Many are covers, but for some reason it works fine. 

We have Roger Daltrey of the Who singing Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," and for the longest time, I preferred this version. I was on a big Who kick then.

INXS practically made this one of their unofficial albums and I think added to their success of Kick, also out in 1987. Their song  "Good Times" was a cover of a 1960s song. 

The big covers were Echo and the Bunnymen's cover of The Door's "People are Strange," which gave the Doors some newfound fans in my generation (yes, we knew about them before). And the big one, Tim Capello's cover of The Call's "I Still Beleive."  Tim Capello is still out there touring, too, and I guess he is like one of the chillest guys ever. 

The original songs include the "title song" "Lost in the Shadows (The Lost Boys)" by Lou Gramm, and the real title song, "Cry Little Sister (Theme from The Lost Boys)" by Gerard McMann.  

I have a lot of really fond memories of this album that coincide with my freshman year in college.  It is the soundtrack I'd put to write vampire material. Kinda wish I still had some of that stuff. It might not have been (it wasn't, I am sure), but for nostalgia value.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 27
First Time Views: 17

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Friday, October 20, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Near Dark (1987)

Near Dark (1987)
Tonight is Monstrous Bloodsuckers. They might not be too monstrous, but opted to rewatch 1987's Near Dark.  Now 1987 was a great year for Vampire movies. We first got Lost Boys (which could be a contender for Best Soundtrack) and Near Dark. Lost Boys outshined Near Dark in the press and box office, but horror fans knew what a treat it was.

Near Dark (1987)

Again. This is one of those movies I assume anyone reading this blog has seen.  A group of vampires is terrorizing a town with the B-Team from Aliens (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein) with new recruit Mae (Jenny Wright). Mae turns Caleb (a very young-looking Adrian Pasdar) and convinces her vampire family not to kill him. Their leader Jesse (Henriksen) agrees to give him a week.

Things seem ok until they expect Caleb to kill, which he won't. Mae feeds him from her own wrists, which isn't helping either of them. Caleb escapes and get back home where his father performs a blood transfusion on him which cures him (I admit, I never liked this part at all). 

The vampire family goes searching for them with Homer, an ancient vampire in a child's body, runs into Caleb's sister Sarah.  A fight ensues between Caleb and vampires with them getting picked off one by one. Their death scenes due to burning and sunlight are still just as gruesome today.

At the end of the movie they give Mae the transfusion and it cures her.

Ok so the transfusion thing still bugs me. A lot. This whole thing was one of the main reasons why I made curing a vampire so difficult in my games. Hell, I only in 2017 relented to allow it to be done via a ritual. In fact, it was a vampire character I made at the very tail end of 1987 that I would later revive as a human in 2017.

Both Lost Boys and Near Dark played with the vampire legend. At the time it was revolutionary feeling, but now it is what is expected. These movies set that ground.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 24
First Time Views: 15

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Sunday, October 15, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: We Are the Night (2010) & Bit (2019)

We Are the Night (2010)
Tonight's movie choices cover both "We Are the Weirdos Mister" and "Pretty Blood Suckers."

Both are vampire movies featuring a group of women vampires in worlds where male vampires are not welcome. 

Both movies had a solid "Lost Boys" meets "The Craft" vibe.

We Are the Night (2010) 

A German flick originally titled "Wir sind die Nacht" focuses on street thief Lena (played by Karoline Herfurth) who pickpockets a Russian pimp being watched by the police, in particular Tom, played by Sense8's Max Riemelt. Lena stumbles onto a rave and is spotted by vampire Louise (who we saw in the opening, killing an entire plane of people) and her vampire friends Charlotte and Nora.  Lena is bitten by Louise and spends the next day transforming into a vampire herself.

Lena seeks them out, angry about what they have done to her, and they drag her to the Russian pimps where he hunger takes over and she kills and feeds on the pimps.  Awash with power Lena begins to enjoy her vampire existence. Shopping, driving fast cars, walking on walls, and learning the rules of being a vampire. The big ones are sunlight can kill them and never turn a man. All the male vampires were killed years ago because of all the trouble they caused. 

Still investigating the pimps, and now their murders, is cop Tom. He met Lena before, and knows she is connected somehow. 

The cops connect the murders of the pimp to the women, not knowing they are vampires.  They go in to arrest them and are of course they are wiped out. Tom sees Lena and keeps following her. Nora is killed. They get to a safe house but Louise locks them in so she can die in the sun. Lena and Charlotte fight it out over Tom. Lena manages to kill Charlotte, but not before she shoots Tom.  The movie ends and we suspect that Lena turned him.

Not a bad flick really. Lots of scenes of Lena and her new vampire family enjoying their new powers and lots of feeding on people. What you want in a vampire movie really. 

Bit (2019)
Bit (2019)

This one is newer and follows a similar formula. This time we have Laurel played by Supergirl actress Nicole Maines. A girl from Oregon visiting her brother in LA. Her first night in town she gets invited to an after-hours party and is bit by vampire Izzy (Zolee Griggs) a member of Duke's (Diana Hopper) vampire group (Roya and Frog). Again we learn that they are never supposed to turn men into vampires. They spend their time killing various rapists, internet shitlords, and other assholes. 

We do learn there is at least still one male vampire, Vlad Castaneda, known as the Master. We get a flashback of Duke back when she was turned in the 1970s by Vlad. Side note, I love the 70s and 80s sequences. Honestly, by the end of the first half you are rooting for the vampires here.

Laurel feeds on a guy trying to kill Duke's coven, but doesn't feed again. 

This comes to a head when upset her friend from home Andy tries to kill himself, she feeds on her brother. Heading back to Duke she tries to get them to help her which they wont.  So she releases the first bride who then revives the Master. We learn that Duke had been using the Master's power to subtly influence the other girls. The Master then rips out Duke's heart. Laurel comes back and sets the Master on fire and the other girls (Izzy, Rora, and Frog) chip in. They kill the Master and put Duke into the hole. 

I am glad to see Nicole Maines in something other than Supergirl. She is a good actress and I am looking forward to seeing her in more. 

Both movies were fun and it leads me to think there might be more in this genre.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 19
First Time Views: 12

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Friday, October 13, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: El Conde (2023)

El Conde
 Tonight's movie theme is "Inspired by True Events."  Typically this means a haunting or a local cryptid. But tonight I opted for something a little different.  

El Conde (2023)

So. Here is the premise of this one. Vampire Augusto Pinochet (yes. THAT Pinochet) is old and tired of living. So he has stopped feeding and has invited his five adult children to his hideout to pass on what is left of his wealth and die.

The trouble is no one trusts anyone else. His butler is having an affair with Pinochet's wife. She wants to become a vampire but Pinochet won't bite her. His children are greedy and are convinced their father is feeding again. 

One of his daughters has secretly hired a Nun to perform an exorcism on Pinochet. This nun, Carmen (played by Paula Luchsinger) is also a mathematical genius and comes to the estate under the guise of finding the lost money and properties of Augusto Pinochet. Trouble is Pinochet is falling in love with Carmen. So Pinochet begins to feed again.

All the while we hear the narration of the story from an English woman who seems to have some background with Pinochet. We learn near the end she is Margaret Thatcher and she is Pinochet's mother.

Carmen tries to exorcise Pinochet but fails. Instead, she falls prey to him and is turned. Which she seems to enjoy. The Butler turns his wife and Magaret Thatcher shows up to tell us what her part is in all of this.

The butler kills Carmen. Pinochet kills the butler and his wife. They eat the hearts of the three vampires and they become young again. Pinochet's children leave the island with what ever they can salvage from the home, not knowing that the real treasure was in his collection of rare books.

Not 100% sure what to make of this one. Strange flick, but it kept me engaged.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 16
First Time Views: 9

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Thursday, October 12, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: BloodRayne (2005, 2007)

I have been playing a lot of Baldur's Gate 3 with my oldest recently and it has been an absolute blast. We are having the best time. He asked me one night what was the last video game I had enjoyed as much as this. A few came to mind, but I had to say the first BloodRayne PC Game I played in the early 2000s. He asked if I still had it and I told him not my originals (no idea what happened to them) but I did have the "updated" versions that came with the the two Uwe Boll movies. That got us talking about the movies and Uwe Boll...and here we are. I checked at found it odd that I had not watched them for my October Horror Movie Marathon before. Well. I had, but never here, save for the third movie

So. Let me correct that.  I am pulling the wild card and taking "Video Game Movie" today.

BloodRayne 1 & 2
Yes. I own both of these.

BloodRayne (2005)
BloodRayne (2005)

This one stars Kristanna Loken as the titular dhampir Rayne. Ok. Let's get to this right now. This is an Uwe Boll movie. Don't expect much. BUT along the way I discovered the secret of Uwe Boll. They guy is not Spielberg, or Scorsese, or even Corman. He is though a guy that likes to have a movie with a lot of over-the-top violence to level of cartoon and maybe tell a fun story. Once you get that, settle in with some corn and enjoy.

Ok Kristanna Loken has the right look to be honest so I can buy into her as Rayne. The story is similar enough to the video game with some interesting details. First Rayne is not yet the bad ass she is in the game. Secondly instead of this taking place in modern-day America and Europe, it is in Easter Europe of the 18th Century. Ok. Honestly, I am cool with that.  Ben Kingsley plays the master Vampire Kagan in only what can be described as "I got bills to pay too."  Michael Madsen is here playing Michael Madsen. Michelle Rodriguez is also here because I think her and Loken were a thing at the time. But none of that matters because we also get some great cameos. Bill Zane is here at his Billy Zaniest. I am guessing his request was "can I play an arrogant count?" Udo Kier is here, because...well why not, I mean if you need a creepy priest member of a secret cabal dedicated to stopping vampires and Mads Mikkelsen is busy. And Meat Loaf (credited as "Meat Loaf Aday") here as a vampire count. I am guessing his request was "I want to be a pompous vampire lord. Oh. and I want 6 or 7 naked women in bed with me."

Surprisingly, even given the game, there is not a lot of gratuitous nudity (save for the above-mentioned scene) here. Lots and lots of gratuitous violence and lots of fake blood everywhere. Hell. The last 10 minutes is just a slow-mo super cut of grisly deaths from the movie. 

The story is simple. Rayne is a dhampir. Her vampire father Kagan wants to rule the world. He wants the relics of Beliar (here a super vampire, in the game a demon) to become unstoppable. The Brimstone society is hunting them both. 

Don't go looking for a bigger plot than that. 

BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (2007)
BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (2007)

Up next is BloodRayne II. Also from Boll. But this time our heroine is played by former model-turned-actress Natassia Malthe.  Now set in the 19th century and headed out to the American West. Rayne must stop the most dangerous vampire on the American frontier. Billy the Kid. Played by Zack Ward.  Because let's be honest here. When the casting director gets request for Vampire Billy the Kid the list likely begins or ends with Zack Ward. Since Michael Madsen's character died in the last one we go to the next name on the list and bring in Michael Paré. I'll be honest here. They sold me on it. Yeah. 

Would I have bought this DVD if it didn't have the PC game included? Probably not, but I am glad I did because like the 1st and 3rd movies it was just a lot of over the top blood and gore and silly fun.

But also like the other two in the "BloodRayne Trilogy" (that's right. That's what I am calling it!) there is a kernel of a good idea here.

Vampires wanting to take over Eastern Europe with the power of a near-mythical relic? Great!

Vampires wanting to take over the American frontier with an army of vampires? Yeeh hah!

Vampires wanting make a race of immortal vampire Nazis? Sure!

I mean the execution leaves some to be desired, but that is fine really. 

Natassia Malthe is not as good as Kristanna Loken (now there is a sentence you don't get to type a lot) but no one here is winning awards for acting and honestly, Rayne is a video game character.

Like I have said before. This is a slider, don't pretend it is steak.

As far as I can tell. The "Unrated" bits are largely due to blood and violence.


Since my kid and I talked about these I figure I might as well have some fun. So here is my Rayne for Baldur's Gate 3.

Rayne for Baldur's Gate 3

Right now a dual-wielding Ranger. Yes. Those are katanas. If you are going to cheese, go extra cheesy. I even know a place in the game where I can get her eye replaced with a magical one, just like the first video game (and first movie). I'll do some more with her, give her some levels in Rogue (Assassin) and maybe some undead fighting buffs. Perfect for when I take on the vampires in Act 3!

There are solid connections here. Laura Bailey was the voice for Rayne in the video game and now is better known for her Critical Role participation (Vex, Jester).  And Michelle Rodriguez was in the first movie and the D&D movie, playing more or less the same character.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 15
First Time Views: 8

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Sunday, October 8, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
 I was talking to my wife about tonight's theme, Horror Comedy, and how I wasn't quite in the mood for that. I wanted to watch Pet Sematary again before the new Paramount channel series. Talking with my wife she asked if I had ever reviewed Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, a movie she knew I loved. As it turns out, Amazon Prime has it.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

This movie is an old one. So instead of going over it detail (I mean, everyone has seen this one right?) let's talk about what it has going on.

Béla Lugosi is back as Dracula, a role he has been playing at this point for 20 years. This was one of his last major roles before his alcohol and drug addiction made getting roles more difficult. He also was very typecast at this point. I always liked him in this role and I think this is one of the first depictions of Dracula as a mad scientist. Something that would become more prevalent later on.

Lon Chaney Jr. is also back as Lawrence Talbot / The Wolf Man. This role I think really was the first time it sold me on the idea of lycanthropy as a curse. This movie was also one of the many of the Frankenstein-Dracula-Wolfman crossovers of the last four or so years. Were these the origin of the Vampires vs. Werewolves in the movies? Maybe.  This was also the last appearance of the Wolf Man in the Universal Studios movies.

Lenore Aubert plays Sandra Mornay, our mad scientist. She is the one bringing Frankenstein's monster back to left and just needs Lou Costello's brain to do it. Fairly progressive for 1948.

This movie also has a special guest at the end, Vincent Price as the voice of the Invisible Man. A nice start to his career in horror.

The movie is fun. It was one of the first "monster movies" I can remember watching with my dad.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 9
First Time Views: 3

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

#Dungeon23 Tomb of the Vampire Queen, Level 10, Room 8

 Moving past the area where the Ankou and his undead cows are "grazing," the party will encounter three wandering vampire girls. They look young but are many centuries old. 

Room 8

They will claim to be thralls of the Vampire Queen and want to help the party. 

In truth, it is far simpler. They were thralls and now they are bored. They come back here because they are still drawn to their Queen.

They have no idea if the Queen is living or dead. They have not been able to get below this level. They will try to strike up a bargain with the party to get to the lower levels. They have no idea how to get to lower levels, nor even what is there. 

They have every intention of killing the party as soon as they can.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Night Teeth (2021)

Night Teeth (2021)
Teen Angst. Yeah, that covers a lot of Horror Movies, but nothing I was in the mood for tonight. So I checked the Teen Horror Halloween movies and found this one. Looked fun.

The voiceover in the beginning informs us that humans and vampires have had a truce for years. 

We see 

Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is a driver...well, not really, he is subbing in for his brother Jay, and he is hired to drive around two young socialites, Blaire (former Disney kid Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry, playing her second Vampire).  The girls have a list of parties they want to hit and the last one has to be reached before morning.

Blaire and Zoe are vampires going on a killing spree, killing people against the truce.  Beeny discovers this and soon discovers that the cops are going to be no help to him. 

We learn they are working Victor (who also grabbed Jay's girlfriend in the beginning) killing everyone in Eva (Sydney Sweeney) and Grace (Megan Fox) network. Jay is a vampire hunter who was supposed to help them, but Jay wouldn't help.

The girls go through LA killing vampire bosses, dragging Benny with them. 

Jay confronts Victor to kill him, but Victor already had his girlfriend Maria killed. 

At the last stop Zoe is shot with a crossbow so they go to Victor's.  Knowing he is about to be killed Beeny crashes the car into the house, killing Zoe with sunlight. Jay tackles Victor but not before Benny is bitten.

Benny, dying is given some blood from Blaire. At first it looks like maybe Benny isn't a vampire, but when he is later picked up by Blaire you can see his fangs.


So not a bad flick really. Certainly, part of the modern Vampire mythos of vampires as the rich and powerful. Other recent examples include Day Shift (2022) and go back to the Blade and Underworld movies. Sure it has been part of Vampire myths for a while, with the prime example coming from the Anne Rice books.  This newest crop also features organized and funded (though not as well as the vampires) vampire hunters.

This one wasn't very "Teen" but still a fun flick. It was great seeing Debby Ryan in something other than a Disney series (I had little kids back then). 

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 8
First Time Views: 3

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Friday, October 6, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
 This one has been on my mind a lot lately, and when I saw that today's movie was Anthology (and I rechecked!) I knew I was going to pull this one out. It has been years since I have seen this.

The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

Vampires, Witches! Psycho killers, Weird waxworks! Peter Cushing! Christopher Lee! Ingrid Pitt! and Jon Pertwee? Ok. What sort of alternate universe Hammer film has all of these Hammer Horror mainstays in it?'s not a Hammer film, but rather by Amicus Productions. Or the Hammer that Americans made while in England. I am not trying to dismiss Amicus, but that is a good way to describe them.  This might be one of their best in a genre they were pretty well known for.  

This is movie is a classic for many reasons. You can see it's DNA in everything from the Horror anthology shows of the 1980s, especially one like Friday the 13th the Series to the American Horror Story season Murder House. 

There are four stories of goings-on in the house, each leading to murder and death with the framing story of a missing actor Paul Henderson, played over the top by Jon "The Third Doctor" Pertwee either when he just got the Doctor Who role or just before it.

I could go over all four stories, but you can read about them anywhere, instead, I want to talk about the movie as a whole.

First off we do not get Cushing, Lee, and Pitt in the same scenes, which is a freaking crime, really. Each one is in their own tale.  

Secondly. The movie is worth watching just for this scene alone.

Pertwee and Pitt

Robert Bloch wrote the movie screenplay, but the individual stories came from various Pulp-era magazines like Wierd Tales and Unknown. So if these feel like, say Creepshow the Movie or Tales from the Crypt there is good reason.

A few other points. "Sweets for the Sweet" is one with Christopher Lee and features the cutest little witch this side of Wendy the Witch. Reminded me a little of the Twilight Zone episode The Most Toys. 

Watching this and knowing Pertwee was in it I thought about Peter Cushing's role as "Dr. Who" and thought we really, really needed a movie with his Doctor and Christopher Lee as the Master. Typecasting? Maybe, but I would have loved it.

I am pretty sure I have seen this house in other movies.

Pertwee commented on Dracula and how he like Lugosi but not "the new guy" who of course was Lee.

The owner of the house was "A.J. Stoker" something that even Pertwee's character remarks on.

This was a fun flick. Not a scary one, but a foundational one for any horror buff.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 7
First Time Views: 2

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge

Sunday, October 1, 2023

October Horror Movie Challenge: Beber de tu Sangre (2020)

Beber de tu Sangre (2020)
 Let's get started!  My first movie of this 2023 October Challenge with a First Time Watch. My plan for this year was to watch nothing but Spanish-language movies this year to improve my Spanish.  I still might, but tonight's choice has me rethinking this. First, my grasp of Spanish is good and getting better, but not where I wanted it to be.  Secondly, tonight's movie was a bit dull.

Beber de tu Sangre (2020)

Beber de tu Sangre, or "Drink Your Blood" and called "Violent Delights" in English is a Mexican movie about vampires. I had pretty high expectations here for my first. Many of the movies from Mexico I have really enjoyed. This one also could be a stand-in for "Best Gratuitous Nudity." 

The plot, at least as far as I can tell is "What if you took the two couples from the first few minutes of The Hunger were given their own movie. Well...not exactly but the vibe is right.  Our couples are  Lizeth and Javier (human) and Alani and Gabriel (vampire).  These are not your typical vampires though as Alani wants a baby.

There is a weird sexual dynamic between the four with plenty of gratuitous nudity and sex, some weird vampire-like stuff. 

I can't tell if they wanted to do "The Hunger" or "The Last Lovers Left Alive" sort of avant-garde vampire movie or what they were looking for. 

Still, the worst part here is that the plot is all over the place, and in the end it goes nowhere.

Ah well. Still, I am going to get to some more Spanish movies this year for sure.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2023
Viewed: 1
First Time Views: 1

31 Days of Halloween Movie Challenge